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ing in juvenile defects, proves him attached to his country, and grateful to his friends.
In 1654, Milton, now utterly blind, appeared again in the field of controversy, first, in his Second Defence of the English People, and the following year in a defence of himself, “ Autoris pro fe Defenfio.” The first of these productions is in truth his own vindication; it is the work in which he speaks most abundantly of his own character and conduct; it displays that true eloquence of the heart, by which probity and talents are enabled to defeat the malevolence of an insolent accuser; it proves that the mind of this wonderful man united to the poetic imagination of Homer the argumentative energy of Demosthenes.
It must however be allowed, that while Milton defended himself with the spirit of the Grecian orator, in imitating the eloquent Athenian he promifcuously caught both his merits and defects. It is to be regretted, that these mighty masters of rhetoric permitted so large an alloy of personal virulence to debase the dignity of national argument; yet as the great orators of an age more humanized are apt, we fee, to be hurried into the same failing, we may conclude that it is almost inseparable from the weakness of nature, and we must not expect to find, though we certainly should endeavour to introduce, the charity of the Gospel in political contention.
If the utmost acrimony of invective could in any case be justified, it might assuredly be so by the calumnies which hurried both Demosthenes and Mil
ton into those intemperate expressions, which appear in their respective vindications like fpecks of a meaner mineral in a mass of the richest ore. The outrages that called forth the vindictive thunders of the cloquent Athenian are sufficiently known. The indignation of Milton was awakened by a Latin work, published at the Hague in 1652, entitled, “Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum ;” The Cry of Royal Blood to Heaven. In this book alk the bitter terms of abhorrence and reproach, with which the malignity of passion can dishonour learn, ing, were lavished on the eloquent defender of the English commonwealth. The secret author of this scurrility was Peter du Moulin, a Protestant divine, and son of a French author, whom the biographers of his own country describe as a fatirist without taste and a theologian without temper.
Though du Moulin seems to have inherited the acrimonious spirit of his father, he had not the courage to publish himself what he had written as the antagonist of Milton, but fent his papers to Salmaa fius, who entrusted them to Alexander More, a French proteitant of Scotch extraction, and a di. cine, who agreed in his principles with the author of the manuscript.
Most unfortunately for his own future comfort, More published, without a name, the work of Du Moulin, with a dedication to Charles the Second, under the signature of Ulac, the Dutch printer. He decorated the book with a portrait of Charles, and applied at the same time to Milton the Virgilian delineation of Polypheme:
Monstrum horrendum informe ingens, cui lumen ademp
A monstrous bulk deform'd, depriv'd of light.
Never was a favage infult more completely avenged; for Milton, having discovered that More was unquestionably the publisher of the work, considered him as its author, which, according to legal maxims, he had a right to do, and in return exposed, with such severity of reproof, the irregular and licentious life of his adversary, that, losing his popularity as a preacher, he seems to have been overwhelmed with public contempt.
There is a circumstance hitherto unnoticed in this controversy, that may be considered as a proof of Milton's independent and inflexible spirit. More having heard accidentally, from an acquaintance of the English author, that he was preparing to expose him as the editor of the fcurrilous work he had published, contrived to make great interest in England, first, to prevent the appearance, and again, to soften the personal severity of Milton's Second Defence. The Dutch ambassador endeavoured to prevail on Cromwell to suppress the work. When he found that this was impossible, he conveyed to Milton the letters of More, containing a protestation that he was not the author of the invective, which had given so much offence; the ambassador at the same time made it his particular request to Milton, that, in answering the book, as far as it related to the English government, he would abstain from all
hostility against More.—Milton replied, “ that no “ unbecoming words should proceed from his pen;' but his principles would not allow him to spare, at any private intercession, a public enemy of his country. These particulars are collected from the last of our author's political treatises in Latin, the defence of himself, and they form, I trust, a favourable introduction to a refutation, which it is time to begin, of the severest and most plausible charge, that the recent enemies of Milton have urged against him; I mean the charge of servility and adulation, as the sycophant of an usurper.
I will state the charge in the words of his most bitter accuser, and without abridgment, that it may appear in its full force:
66 Cromwell (says Johnfon) had now dismisfed the “ parliament, by the authority of which he had
destroyed monarchy, and commenced monarch “ himself under the title of protector, but with “ kingly, and more than kingly, power. That his “ authority was lawful never was pretended; he “ himself founded his right only in necessity : but “ Milton, having now tasted the honey of public em“ ployment, would not return to hunger and phi
lofophy, but, continuing, to exercise his office 66 under a manifest usurpation, betrayed to his
power that liberty which he had defended. No.
thing can be more just than that rebellion should “ end in slavery; that he who had justified the «' murder of the king for some acts, which to him " seemed unlawful, should now fell his services
" and his flatteries to a tyrant, of whom it was evi“ dent that he cquld do nothing lawful.”
Let us observe, for the honour of Milton, that the paragraph, in which he is arraigned with so much rancour, contains a political dogma, that, if it were really true, might blast the glory of all the illustrious characters who are particularly endeared to every English heart. If nothing can be more just than that rebellion should end in slavery, why do we revere those ancestors, who contended against kings? why do we not resign the privileges that we owe to their repeated rebellion ? but the dogma is utterly unworthy of an English moralist ; for afsuredly we have the sanction of truth, reason, and experience, in saying, that rebellion is morally criminal or meritorious, according to the provocation by which it is excited, and the end it pursues. This doctrine was supported even by a servant of the imperious Elizabeth.
“Sir Thomas Smith” (says Milton in his Tenure of Kings and Magistrates) “ a
protestant and a statesman, in his Commonwealth “ of England, putting the question, whether it be " lawful to rise against a tyrant, answers, that the “ vulgar judge of it according to the event, and the “ learned according to the purpose of them that do " it.” Dr. Johnson, though one of the learned, here shews not that candour which the liberal statesman had described as the characteristic of their judg
The biographer, uttering himself political tenets of the most servile complexion, accuses Milton of servility; and, in his mode of using the words honey and hunger, falls into a petulant